Scott Peterson, Thousands of Prisoners Were OK'd for $140 Million in Fraudulent Payments: Officials

Prosecutors in California say that the state has paid at least $140 million in fraudulent unemployment benefits in the names of thousands of prisoners, including Scott Peterson.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert tells the Associated Press that more than 35,000 inmates were named in claims filed with the California Employment Development Department between March and August. Additionally, at least 158 claims were filed for 133 death-row inmates, resulting in more than $420,000 in benefits paid.

“It involves rapists and child molesters, human traffickers and other violent criminals in our state prisons,” Schubert told the AP.

It's unclear who filed a claim in Peterson's name — or if he actually received any money. His attorney, Pat Harris, tells the Associated Press that there is no evidence his client was involved.

“This investigation, when it’s completed, will show that he had not a thing to do with any kind of scheme to get fraudulent benefits,” Harris said.

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Peterson, now 47, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the 2002 death of wife Laci Peterson and their unborn son, Conner. He was sentenced to death in 2005.

Laci was eight months pregnant when she disappeared from her Modesto home during the day of Christmas Eve, 2002. Her body was found in April 2003 in the San Francisco Bay. Peterson claimed Laci was killed as she walked the couple’s dog after Peterson left to go on a solo fishing trip on Christmas Eve morning.

In August, a court overturned his death sentence. His case is currently under review to determine whether his convictions should be overturned, and whether he should receive a new trial.

Schubert has said there was a claim made in the name of Scott Peterson, but declined to provide further details. It's unclear how much money was paid out in his name.

Prosecutors are continuing to investigate the alleged fraud.

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